Refusal to Honor Mandela Outrages Blacks in Florida
Outrage and embarrassment swept through South Florida’s black communities Tuesday after six area mayors and the governor denounced Nelson Mandela for his support of Cuba’s Fidel Castro and refused to issue proclamations honoring the civil rights leader.
“It is an embarrassment,” said Ray Fauntroy, head of the Dade County chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “This town (Miami), which is supposed to be an international city, has not responded as every other city in the world has (to a visit by Mandela).”
Mandela, the deputy president of the African National Congress, is to arrive in Miami this evening. On Thursday, he will speak to a Miami Beach convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Mandela’s refusal to denounce Castro, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Yasser Arafat and Libya’s Moammar Kadafi, who have all endorsed the ANC’s campaign to end apartheid in South Africa, has angered large segments of South Florida’s Cuban and Jewish populations.
Professing disappointment in Mandela’s support of the controversial leaders, the mayors of Miami and Miami Beach have refused to issue proclamations honoring him during his visit to South Florida or to present him with keys to their cities.
After outraged leaders of Miami’s black community gathered at City Hall on Tuesday, Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez joined black elected leaders in welcoming Mandela to the area but he said that he would not be honored with a proclamation or key to the city.
Suarez acknowledged “a rift in the community” because of Mandela’s visit, but added: “I’m sure we could resolve our differences on international issues.”
Dade County Commissioner Barbara Carey and Opa Locka Mayor Robert Ingram, both black, joined Suarez in a statement encouraging “the free and open exchange of ideas” and “expressing our opposition to human rights violations in other parts of the world, such as Cuba and Libya and the Middle East.”
During a meeting of the Florida Cabinet on Tuesday, Gov. Bob Martinez called Mandela’s refusal to renounce his ties to Castro and Arafat “unfortunate,” adding that he too would not issue a proclamation honoring Mandela.
“I think that in terms of what he has done in his country to bring about freedom and liberty I think is well recognized,” Martinez said. “The fact, unfortunately, that he spoke out on Castro and Arafat . . . I can’t agree with that.”
Miami Beach Mayor Alex Daoud said he was “appalled” by Mandela’s association with Arafat and Castro.
On Monday, the mayors of Miami, Hialeah, West Miami, Sweetwater and Hialeah Gardens--all Cuban-American--released a declaration denouncing Mandela’s association with Castro.
Mandela triggered the controversy last week during a televised interview, saying he counted Castro, Arafat and Kadafi as friends because of their support of the ANC during the 27 years he was imprisoned in a South African jail.